There was a very big difference between my parents. My mum was genuinely caring and loved me. My dad was probably only really in love with himself. He sailed very close to the wind with affairs, risked our family and my security, to feed his ego.
Things got too difficult in our home town, my dad got a job as a prison officer down south, so we moved away to go and live on an estate next to the prison he worked at.
Things got worse, and when I was 7 years old, my parents finally divorced and my mum took me to go and live in Oxford, where I have been ever since.
We lived in shared housing at first, not a healthy environment. This included a heroin addict getting into my bed when I was about 9 years old. Later my mum got a council house, when we lived with my mum’s boyfriend, who I was afraid of and had no good relationship with, and my younger brother.
My dad married the singer of the band he was in, an alcoholic ex drug addict who had several previous marriages and had been treated very badly, she was really a very nice person, but quite messed up. During a gig at a local community centre she got drunk, got in my dad’s van, and literally drove through the doors of the community centre, My dad moved in with her without even asking, and I saw them on Sundays when we would go to a string of different churches, sometimes I would stay over, sleep the night on the sofa downstairs while they argued. We went on holiday to Ibiza once, where I first got very drunk on rum and coke and champagne, which my Dad thought was funny. I was 12 at the time, My dad punched my stepmum on holiday, and gave her a black eye during a row. They finally split up after 7 years of this, I saw her one last time in the car, she was driven off and I never saw her again.
My Dad was in the prison service for about 30 years, working in a Therapeutic Community. He became the prison counsellor for the child killer, Myra Hindley, and was frequently in the media, perhaps most notoriously for taking my 6 year old stepsister into prison to walk hand in hand with Myra and her lover. It sometimes feels like he had more of a connection with serial killers, rapists and paedophiles than he did me, and sadly that may be the truth of the matter.
At 17 my Dad arranged for me to visit his prison. I had spent some time with him on gate duty, but I’d never been inside the prison itself. So, I became the youngest person to be officially allowed to visit the inside of an adult prison, in the UK, where a talked to prisoners in their cells and had a tour of the wings. I think I was offered to go and visit Myra but turned it down.